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Open-ended to Closed-ended Approach

  • Suggested order:
    • Open conversation
    • Open-ended questions
    • Close-ended questions
    • Patient questions/comments

Open-ended Questions

  • To provide the best care, I ask all my patients about their sexual activity—so, tell me a little about your sex life and how safer sex fits into it. This is important for your health as well as the health of others.
  • Please tell me about the people who you’ve had sex with recently: (Adding humor can help, e.g. do you have sex with men, women, cucumbers, some of each?)
  • Please talk to me about the HIV status of your sexual partner(s).
  • Please tell me about how you have sex.
  • What’s your experience with condom use?
  • Please tell me how alcohol and/or drugs affect your sex life. If drug use:
    • Are your needles and works clean?
  • I don’t know what you mean. Can you explain? (for sexual or drug behaviors that need clarification)

Closed-ended Questions

  • How often do you have sex?
  • How many partners do you have?
  • Where do you usually meet your partner(s)?
  • Is/are your partner(s) aware of your HIV status?
  • Do you talk with your partner(s) about safer sex?
  • Do you use condoms for oral, vaginal, and/or anal sex? How often? Condom for each act?
  • Do you use sex toys?
  • Do you use alcohol or other drugs while having sex?
  • Are you happy with your sex life? Do you find it satisfying?
  • Do you visit places or associate with people that cause you to take chances?
  • Have you ever traded sex or drugs for money?
  • Have you ever injected any kind of drug? If yes:
    • Do you use clean needles and works?
  • Do you have family members or friends with whom you can talk openly?

Content Sources
1. University of South California Department of Preventative Medicine, Partnership for Health, 2004.
2. National Network of STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers. Ask, Screen, Intervene: Incorporating HIV Prevention into the Medical Care of Persons Living with HIV, 2008.
3. New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, Office of the Medical Director. HIV Clinical Guidelines. Prevention with Positives: Integrating HIV Prevention into HIV Primary Care.
4. Barbara Chaffee, MD
5. NYS HIV Quality of Care & Consumer Advisory Committees